Heartbeats Club helps residents both physically and mentally at Babcock Community Care Centre

Residents are gaining many benefits since the Heartbeats Club program was established last year at Babcock Community Care Centre, a 60-bed long-term care home in Wardsville, Ontario.

The Heartbeats Club is based on evidence that music and exercise go hand-in-hand for any age and ability, as a safe way for residents to do cardio chair exercises with loud, fun, upbeat music, and simple movements.

The program was established in May 2018 after Activity Director Nicole Hopper heard about Heartbeats Club at a local Activity Directors' meeting. She brought the idea forward to the home's Resident Council, who agreed to give it a try. So Nicole arranged for her and a colleague, Restorative Care aide Donna Ducharme, to attend a two-day Heartbeats Club education and training program led directly by the program's developer herself, Tammy Stone, 

"The great part about the program is that anyone can participate regardless of their age or ability, even residents with physical impairments or cognitive challenges," says Hopper. "In our home, it also crosses a language barrier as it is so easy to follow and do.  The residents are given set moves but are encouraged to adopt and improvise their own movements to the music to their own ability levels."

The Club gets scheduled through the home's activity calendar for every other week. It typically lasts 30-60 minutes depending on how much fun and socializing the residents do after completing the program.  There is always a set group that participates actively each time, though anyone is welcome.  Residents and staff immediately know it is Heartbeats Club day when Nicole and Donna show up for work in their pink florescent matching exercise shirts. 

Nicole finds that everyone’s endurance has increased, including the staff, over the past year. 

“When we first started, everyone was getting pretty easily winded, but not so much now," says Hopper. "Our physio assistants now participate too! And along with the physical benefits, we clearly see how the program has improved residents' mental state. There's so much more laughter and positivity among residents now, not to mention a visible level of increased energy." 

What's more, the program has allowed for new friendships to form.

"Our residents basically treat the Club like a social group now," adds Hopper. "It's so engaging and has a positive energy for everyone involved. While the program is on, the music and laughter can be heard throughout the home."

The group loves to show off their moves for our entertainers that they feel close to. They recently put on a show of their two favourite songs at our Volunteer Appreciation Social for the volunteers, which can be viewed in the video below.

Future goals for the group and leaders are to expand their song library and add even more movements.  Anyone interested in finding out more about our program can contact Nicole Hopper or visit www.heartbeatsclub.ca.